Meet the Mellon Fellows: Dr. Hazim Abdullah-Smith

Photograph of Dr. Abdullah-Smith

Dr. Hazim Abdullah-Smith

University of Maryland
PhD, American Studies

Host Site: Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Fellowship Title: Green Book Cleveland Fellowship
Project Description: Dr. Abdullah-Smith will research and interpret African American experiences related to 20th-century entertainment, leisure, and recreation in a major Great Lakes metropolitan area. The research will explore themes of community change, celebration, and resilience in an era marked by segregation, racism, and racial violence.  


Dr. Hazim Abdullah-Smith is a scholar specializing in Black and queer geographies. He is interested in using community ethnography, archival research and digital tools to amplify complex stories about Black communities in and beyond the United States. His primary research interests include Queer Caribbean Studies, Black social life and world-making practices. He earned his Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Maryland, College Park. His dissertation, "Paradise Remixed: The Queer Politics of Tourism in Jamaica," was a multidisciplinary ethnography that investigated the intersection of tourism and queer life in Jamaica. With a commitment to interdisciplinary thinking, he earned graduate certificates in Digital Studies in the Arts and Humanities and Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies. He earned his undergraduate degree in African American Studies from Northwestern University. His professional and academic trajectory has been generously supported by a Fulbright grant for research in Kingston, Jamaica, the African American Digital Humanities (AADHUM) fellowship, the Wylie Dissertation Fellowship, the Social Science Research Council and the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship / MMGIP.

Tell us about your research interests!

My research interests are primarily in Caribbean Studies (broadly, politics, culture and systems of meaning in the Caribbean and its global reach). Specifically, I am interested in gender and sexuality in Jamaica. My interest in this type of regional and place-based research stems from a broad and consistent interest in seeing how place and environment shapes identity and lived experience. These lived experiences are inextricably linked to systems of power, histories, and ongoing realities of inclusion or exclusion based on race, gender, sexuality, class, disability, and more. Critical attention to the spaces and history around us through place-based analyses, frameworks of cultural geography and the field known as Black Geographies help us initiate conversations to understand and connect the local, regional, and global issues facing society as we think of new ways to build the future collectively.

How does your research connect to the mission of the National Park Service, which serves both parks and communities?

My research at Cuyahoga Valley National Park centers on interpreting histories of African American leisure, recreation and entertainment. Similar to my research on tourism and travel cultures in Jamaica, lesser- known stories and hidden histories of recreation inspire us to think deeply about the spaces around us, how we can preserve history, and how we can come to the table to use storytelling to make more equitable and inclusive decisions as communities.

What are you most excited about as you begin your fellowship?

I'm interested in writing for the public and working collaboratively to share the stories our team is gathering through oral history, archival research, and local community partnerships.

Last updated: July 8, 2024